Marlon Brando took to calling Director Frank Oz "Fozzy" and "Miss Piggy" during this movie. Oz has been the voice of Fozzy Bear and Miss Piggy in the various Muppet productions since the beginning. Brando's hazing of Oz over his work with the Muppets got so bad, that Robert De Niro was forced to direct Brando instead, with Oz giving him instructions via headset.
When fighting in Jackie's (Edward Norton's) apartment, Burt (Gary Farmer) is shown slamming Jackie's face into the kitchen counter twice. This part was filmed with him doing it only once. The second slam was created with precise editing.
In Jackie's final scenes, he is wearing a Baltimore Orioles cap. Edward Norton is from the Baltimore suburb of Columbia, and he is an avid Orioles fan. He took batting practice with the team to help publicize this movie's premiere in July 2001.
Many of the scenes inside the Montreal Customs House were filmed inside the actual building. The filmmakers built some temporary additions and used some CGI to suit their purposes. For instance, there is no elevator that goes down from the ground floor to the basement.
The thermic lance used on the safe is a real cutting tool. Pressurized oxygen is pumped through an iron tube full of iron rods. An oxyacetylene torch is used to heat and ignite the open end, creating a stream of burning iron. Producing a temperature of around 4,500 degrees Celsius (8,132 degrees Fahrenheit), a thermic lance can burn rapidly through concrete and steel.
The huge red ship in one shot is Orsula, a bulk carrier. It was built at at Jiangnan Shipyard, Shanghai, in 1996. Filmmakers had not planned to include Orsula in the background, but it spontaneously added production value.
Jamie Harrold brags that he can do anything if he is given only a KayPro 64 computer and a dial tone. There was the KayPro II, a large portable machine with a small green screen, and there was the Commodore 64, a home computer which could be displayed on your or a color monitor, but no KayPro 64. Which means that it was a fictitious item, something commonly seen in crime thrillers, so that real people can't try to duplicate what they have seen on-screen.
On December 15, 2011, Orsula went aground on the St. Lawrence River near Becancour, Quebec, Canada, not far from its appearance in the film. The incident was caused by loss of control due to rudder failure, and resulted in no injuries, pollution release, or property damage. Orsula itself was not heavily damaged.
The trivia items below may give away important plot points.
The filmmakers debated whether or not Jackie (Edward Norton) should kill Danny (Paul Soles) when he stumbles upon his scheme in the basement. Ultimately, they decided that Danny's kindness toward Jackie's fake alter ego "Brian" justified sparing his life.
Episode 59 of MythBusters (2003) put the myth of breaking into a safe the way Nick did to the test. Using a thermal lance like Nick, they were able to burn a hole into the same model safe, but it took a very long time and several thermal rods. The contents of the Mythbusters' safe were burned as well. The safe was not watertight, so they had to seal it from the outside before filling it with water. However, the underwater explosion did blow the door off before the glass relocker mechanism could engage. Based on the safe door becoming dislodged, and past police reports, they determined it was "plausible".